Thursday, May 31, 2012

Running my race

Today I weigh the same number of pounds that I weighed when we went on our cruise 2 years ago, 207. I jogged a 5K on the deck of that ship (with strangers cheering me on). The difference is that I am 28 weeks pregnant now. Which translates into at least 10 lbs of pregnancy weight (virtual weight then being 197 or less, the range for weight gain at 28 weeks is 10-22 lbs).

So I am pleased but not satisfied. I have had several pig out days, and haven't been very committed to my goal. That happened with my 9th pregnancy as well - I did great for a while and then coasted to the end.

But I have a goal. It might be a little ridiculous, but I have a weight in mind that I would like to weigh when I deliver (187). If I don't get there, that's ok. But if I don't try, I won't get anywhere close.

Don't worry, I'm eating plenty of calories, plenty of protein, plenty of veggies, taking my vitamins (most days). I'm drinking lots of water. But I have an eating plan, and I'm charting it on the computer.

And the plan extends after baby. I want to be a healthy mom. I want to be a mom my kids can be proud of. I'm going for it.

My sisters and I have been working on this together. They are both thin and beautiful. My younger sister runs marathons. But they both have to fight for it. So my younger sister gave us both a copy of a book, "Made to Crave" and I'm maybe a 6th of the way through it. I think the gist of it is that God could have made us differently, but that our food cravings (or whatever we struggle with) are meant to turn us to Him. She talks about praying when you crave and "building a garden path one stone at a time".

I am loving that image. And I am trying. I am trying to turn to Him when I am wanting. And I am on a freeze right now. I am only eating what I need, nothing that isn't good for me, nothing that isn't necessary. That eliminates options and simplifies the decision process.

Today I had a peanut butter protein shake for breakfast, will have chicken salad on bell pepper for lunch, deviled eggs for a snack, and zucchini (subbed for spaghetti) and meatballs for supper. Doesn't that sound satisfying? That and lots of water, and I am content with my eating.

I have the eye of the tiger. I am not giving up. I have 12 short weeks left in what may be my last pregnancy (because people my age don't necessarily get pregnant, unless of course, God gives them more gifts, and in that case, bring 'em on!) and I want to give it everything I've got.

It is possible that I could, when the baby is a couple weeks old, weigh less than I have weighed in 19 years (170?). It is possible I could, when the baby is a year old, weigh the appropriate weight for my not-very-substantial height (132 or so). It could happen. I might be not very toned with 17 years of baby blab hanging on me, but I could get there. And I have the equipment and knowledge to tone at least some of that beauty up.

Just because I haven't been healthy in many years doesn't mean I can't be, and soon (a year is soon). I've been chasing this goal for a very long time, and it actually seems a little bit attainable. And that, friends, is a new and incredible feeling.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

There's no place like home

My children are playing some wild variation of the princess and the pea, only, instead of a princess feeling a pea under 20 mattresses, it's a dozen or so children trying to find a red marble under, um, each other. I keep suggesting it might be time to stop, and they keep asking to continue.

Today I took my 6 year old daughter to what I thought was a pediatric dermatologist. My phone thinks it's in a different time zone, so I keep realizing I have an appointment in 10 minutes that is 20 or more minutes away. That was the case today, so I went blazing out of the garage at 2:21 in a blaze of minivan glory, hoping the police wouldn't notice me flying over (through) the park with its 20 mph speed limit. They didn't, although I did have to pause briefly to close the hatch.

I tried calling a few times, but the message I heard said they're closed and will open tomorrow at noon. Hmmn. Do I keep going? Decided to show up late to an office that was probably closed because my daughter is desperate to get rid of a couple warts on her knee. Wart remover stings and we can't get duct tape to stay on. So off we go.

Turns out, it's not a pediatric dermatologist. Just a regular one. And they have two workers doing the job of four so that's why they're not answering the phone. The gal at the window is defensive, and I'm trying to apologize for being late, and it wasn't that pleasant, until she saw my daughter.

The kid has curly blond hair, huge blue eyes, a scrumptious smile and stunningly bright countenence, and is wearing her ruby slippers. The staff at the doctor's office have obviously not seen anything this cute in way too long. They were falling all over themselves trying to make her comfortable. (Oh, and the doctor was so congratulatory over us having a 13th child - came from a big family.)

Then I took the same child to Aldi, and she was the belle of the rent-your-cart-for-a-quarter ball. Fifteen people oogled over Mommy's Helper. It was delightful. (so different from going to the same store with my two littlest, looking like I've shacked up with 2 or 3 different men in the last 2.5 years, trying to populate the earth personally, since #11 looks like she's at least 10 months older than #12 and obviously has a different father, and I look at least 10 months pregnant with #13)

So those were good times. So was my devotional set at the local house of prayer the day before (despite my constant yawning into the mike). And the party we attended the day before that (the one with 7 families and 47 children - 1/4th of which were ours), and the church picnic the day before that.

The truth is, I'm glad to have done most of the things I leave my house to do. But I am not glad to go. I do not want to go. I do not want to do anything. I want to stay home. I want to do laundry and dishes and organize the linen closet. I want to paint the bathrooms and hang up toothbrush holders on the wall. I want to clean out the mountain of crap in the basement my mom created during her post partem visit about 3 kids ago.

I'm nesting and I want to be left alone, for the most part. I feel so vulnerable and small and fat and ugly (yes it is possible to feel small AND fat). And leaving the house is a huge act of will.

So my dilemna is this: how much do I honor that instinct, and how much do I force myself to suck it up and get my butt out there to whatever it is, knowing it will be good for me, or my children, or both?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Life with 2

What's it like with a dozen kids, people wonder. This week I'm down to the youngest two, the babies, the one year olds. So today I can tell you what life with a dozen is NOT like.

It's Tuesday and I just am running the dishwasher (singular) for the first time.

We can eat anywhere and anything we want. They don't care.

The boy goes back to sleep in the morning and I'm having to get him up, which means I haven't gotten dressed before 8 two days in a row. (As opposed to having a big kid drop a crying baby on me at 6:15 every morning.)

Going in and out of places carrying two babies and a diaper bag strengthens biceps and hips.

For breakfast today they shared a bagel. Unbelievable.

We went through Taco Bell the other day for well under 10 dollars and it took seconds to give us our food. (Normally we can't even go drive through there, someone has to go in, it costs 35 dollars, and takes 20 minutes to fill our order. So we don't do it very often.)

Neither of them speaks enough English to interrupt a grown up conversation, so my husband and I have been able to have some of those. The flip side is that neither of them get my jokes or are very interested in my stories.

Not getting, um, walked in on. Nuf said. Weird.

I can listen to whatever radio station I want!

Monday, May 21, 2012

The house that Jack built

I'm laying awake in bed on a night that I desperately need to be sleeping, thinking about ways I can send one of my dearest friends to the other side of the world. My cherished friend, Mary Lyn Noeth, and her husband Peter are simply two of the godliest people I have ever known. Their long time dream of being part of the Wycliffe team of Bible translators is near fulfillment, or not. The only thing stopping them is a piddly little thing called money.

What they want to do sounds a little like the story of the house that Jack built. Maybe something like this:
This is the man who keeps the planes running to take the supplies to the missionaries up in the jungle who translate the Word for a people who haven't heard that the God of creation speaks the language of their heart.

Or, this is the woman who teaches the children of the people who lay down their lives learning and translating the Bible into languages not yet written so that all may know that God so loved them, that He gave His Son to save then and gave His Word to them in the language their heart speaks.

Now, they didn't ask me to do this. In fact, I may be disobeying some godly Wycliffe rule by writing this up, but I thought, laying in my bed, that I might be able to get back to sleep better if I use my blog tonight to, instead of whining about some aspect of motherhood or weight loss or whatever, to invite you to be part of their team of senders and prayers.

I don't know about you, but we have more Bibles than people in my house. And we have a lot of people! But there are those who have yet to know Him, yet to hear Him, and we can help. Pray about it. What is God saying? If you want to know more or jump in, here is their blog: (you have to go to the web version to connect with them, the mobile version doesn't tell you)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Recap

So here's how the parade went down.

Saturday morning my expectations were gruesomely low. (sorry)

Saturday afternoon, husband and oldest six went shopping, ostensibly for me for mother's day, and came back with what seemed to be stuff for them. Hmmn.

Saturday evening, the eldest kicks me and husband out of the house, so they can prepare. I should mention that on Friday, she made a loaf of whole wheat French bread and won't let anyone touch it. We go to dinner, have a good chat, and go to Home Depot to talk about how to make our bathroom a happier, more functional place.

Saturday night, I go to bed knowing that something special awaits me for breakfast.

Sunday morning, I awaken to a child asking if he can have his second computer turn. I tell him that waking up your mother on Mother's Day to ask to have a computer turn is evil and to go talk to Dad.

But when I come downstairs to a beautiful blueberry breakfast casserole, I really did feel pretty cherished. By the end of the day, I ate probably 2/3rds of it myself. I got great home made cards, a necklace made by same daughter, and a gift from my husband that I really wanted but did not need (I was afraid he was going to get me a crock pot to replace my broken one). I was home with my family most of the day and they all did lots of helping so that I didn't have to do much.

It was a great day and I was thankful.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Wrap this, if you can

What do I really want for mother's day?

It's a tough list, really. I'll tell you, and see if you can grab it at Walmart and wrap it up. I doubt it.

I want to not feel lonely in the midst of a bunch of people.

I want to hear my husband's heart and have his full attention.

I want to enjoy the company of my children without fighting, hormonal outbursts, and ugly words. (and it would be nice if they would also behave)

I want to feel like what I'm doing matters, like I am having some success and not just spinning my tires and spitting in the wind.

I want to look at the future without anxiety and fear, to believe that I am preparing them adequately for what is ahead.

I want to go to bed at night and sleep until I'm not tired anymore.

I want the dog to stop crapping on the floor when we leave him at home alone.

I want to believe that my husband likes the look of me, the smell of me, the feel of me, the sound of me, the thought of me, and that he's not just putting up with a choice he made 20 some years ago.

I want to be beautiful and strong and healthy.

No flowers can do this. No gifts, no chocolates, no cookies, no breakfast in bed can make these things happen. No one day, no holiday can make a woman feel loved and appreciated. Either she does, and the gifts and cards supplement and affirm the feeling, or she doesn't, and what does or doesn't happen on that day remind her.

I am a talker. A writer. A verbal processor. I think too much and say or write most of it. Journaling and blogging serve as an outlet because I have too many words, more than anyone really wants to hear or read.

My husband works with people, many of them women, who (because it is their job to do so) talk all day. He listens to and talks to people all day, every day. When he comes home, he wants silence. Or at least, white noise. He doesn't want/need to hear my bajillion thoughts about everything from the kids trip to Grandma's to how much the cloth diapers are holding to labor and delivery to how I felt about what somebody said on the radio yesterday.

Usually by about Saturday afternoon he begins to recover from the verbal assault that is his life, and starts to be in a place where he doesn't mind if I say a thing or two.

The point is, I'm needy and he's needy and often times our needs are not friends. I'm glad for my friends and children and journal and blog, so I don't have to tell him everything. But the point here is, my husband cannot meet all my needs (no man could), and some women have husbands who are far less able or no husbands at all, and where does that leave us on 'special' days like Mother's Day except empty?

It leaves us at the cross.

I can feel beautiful because the One Who made me calls me beautiful. I can feel like I'm doing well because He says, 'well done'. I can have a wonderful mother's day because I can enjoy the gifts God has lavished on me, gifts I don't deserve and am not worthy of. I can have joy because of His love that fills me and heals me and makes me a daughter of the King.

And, well, I'll just keep cleaning up the dog doo until he figures out that we come back every time.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Honoring Mothers

Before I get all selfish and focused on the parade being prepared in my honor as the amazing supermom of 12 seen and one wriggling invisible blessings, I must needs give honor where honor is due.

I honor my mother, who taught me to seek God, to write neatly, to finish a job and to pee on the pot. She gave birth to me, agonized over me, no doubt prayed many an hour for me, and poured her life into me, neglecting her own needs almost constantly. She kept me clothed, fed, busy, happy and healthy for years, doing all the jobs that now occupy the better part of my days. And she loves me. Up one side and down the other, she is, as she says, "in my balcony."

I honor my mother in law, the woman who gave birth to the man who has made my dreams come true. One thing I desired in a husband was a man who had a good relationship with his mother, and I am so thankful to have that. She was and is a phenomenal mother and now grandmother. She does everything a mother is supposed to do with excellence, keeping her house, preparing meals, birthday cards, gifts, weeping and laughing with her children and grandchildren, feeling their pain and rejoicing in their triumph. She is a terrific mom.

Finally, I honor the incredibly beautiful and wonderful birthmother of my youngest daughter. She chose, at great physical and emotional cost to herself, to give her baby what she believed was the very best life possible, and had faith in us to provide that for her. She has confirmed again and again her belief that this was the best decision for the little girl we both love. I am daily stunned and overwhelmed by the gift she and the Lord bestowed on us. The little face and smile and laugh and hugs and words, hearing her say Mama and seeing her dance and play, all are a reward that someone else earned and gave freely to me. Her birthmother. Her first mother. What an incredible woman! I will and must always esteem her highly.

Happy Mother's Day to these three women who give my joy wings. Thank you. I owe you all the world.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Knowing Him, continued

Philippians 3 has always been one of my 2 favorite chapters of the Bible (the other is Ps. 139)

Whatsoever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss . . . that I may gain Christ . . . that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings . . . Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

I love that stuff. I think I was always impressed that Paul, while writing the Bible, said he didn't have it yet, but was pressing on. That's humility. But for the first time, I was struck by the next part of the passage:

Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude . . . For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.

I'm leaving parts out for brevity's sake (you can look up the whole chapter if you want to). But he is saying that we should have this attitude, and that of those who don't have it, many have become enemies of the cross. What attitude? The attitude of pressing in to know Christ, of calling everything garbage compared to knowing Jesus. That's what I think anyway.

As I said in my last post, I have recently been struck by 1) the number of young people who have been brought up before the Lord and have walked away; 2) the condition of the kids my kids have grown up around - kids who have seemed to be in a good place, but for whom I see a slow creep; and 3) the condition of my kids, who I think walk near to the Lord because they are near to their dad and me, and we are near Him, but I find myself asking the question, "Do they know Him?"

Because every waking moment, every home school hour logged, every diaper changed, every contraction in every labor is all grief if one of my jewels doesn't know the One who made them in His image.

So what is my response to all this heaviness?

Well, I'm praying and will pray and then will continue in prayer.

Also, I'm going to continue to and increase in my efforts to bathe them in the Word of God.

And I'm talking to them about it, challenging them. I cannot control their response, but I am showing the question. The Matrix's blue and red pill are out on the coffee table (figuratively - we don't have a coffee table, and if we had pills sitting out, someone would eat them).

ALL things are rubbish in view of knowing Christ.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012


typing with left hand, 2 curly haired girls on my lap, no kidding. my 3rd attempt at sugar free brownies is in the oven, but i can already tell you i used too much sweetener. (girls just went to play)

My older class of group school (age 11-14) and I have been reading a book called "But don't all religions lead to God?" or something like that. It's a great book. We've been enjoying it immensely. But yesterday we talked about something that has got me thinking, and I haven't stopped thinking about it. I shall attempt to talk about it here.

There is a scene in the movie "Elf" when Will Farrell is at the "North Pole" a.k.a. the gift wrapping department of Gilbert's or whatever the store is. The manager makes an announcement that Santa is coming, and Buddy (Will Farrell, who plays a human that grew up at the actual North Pole, raised by one of Santa's elves) goes ballistic. "I know him!! I know him," he shouts over and over. Everyone else is like, um, yeah. But Buddy the Elf is ecstatic, because he has a relationship with the actual Santa.

The book talked about how Jesus is unique in His claim to live in us, to be known by us. The Holy Spirit, after Jesus' ascension, reveals Jesus to us and makes it possible for us to KNOW Him. We don't just know about Him. We know Him!

If we are simply trying to live a good life according the Christian version of what a good life is, it is still dead works. It is still man trying to get to God. It is still religion. Even if it is the right religion, man trying to do the right thing so God will like him is not salvation. Salvation is receiving grace, knowing Him, living an entirely different way because we love Him and want to please Him.

If we say a prayer asking Jesus into our hearts, saying the right words, but have not come to know Him, have not been made new, have not been transformed, and are just trying to live up to the pressure of a new set of rules, that is not the narrow way. (by the way, much of this thought came from that sermon I watched on youtube by Paul Washer - sorry for the regurgitation) The evidence of our salvation is a transformed life because we have been changed by Love and want to please the One Who loves us.

What bothered me about the conversation with my kids was realizing that they very well may be going through their lives trying to do what is right out of relationship, but not relationship with HIM. They may just be living out their faith out of relationship with me. And I'm looking at other young people, their generation, and wondering, do they KNOW HIM? Are they just living out the way they were brought up, trying to do what's right, or do they have a real relationship with their living Lord?

Because my kids just doing what's right may look good, may make me look like I'm doing a good job, but if they don't KNOW HIM, it won't last. Or maybe it will. But if they meet Him one day and He says, "Depart from Me, I never knew you," what good is it? If they are successfully religious for their whole lives but never have a relationship with Him, what good does it do?

Not any. I want one thing for my children. Only one. I want them to know Him. I don't care about anything else. I don't care what it costs. I don't care what it looks like. I want them to know Him. If they are happily married and have lots of wonderful children and have a nice house and have great jobs and great educations and are great cooks and have lovely manicured yards and play lots of instruments and write songs and record cds, but don't know Him, it will be for naught. If they have a failure of a life and a string of heartaches but know Jesus, that will be a win. I'd rather have them be happy AND know Jesus. But I'd rather they find Jesus in the middle of difficulty than have a life of ease and happiness and never know Him.

And the brownies were too sweet in an aftertastey kind of way.

Friday, May 04, 2012


I've been eating lots of refined birthday carbs and have pretty much lost vision of what the heck I'm supposed to be eating. I have my four cherished and beloved nieces here, which amounts to 8 kids under the age of 7 here, or eleven under the age of 10, with a grand total of 16 children. Number ten has a pretty horrendous case of chicken pox and the babies have GOT to be coming down with it, as there is much fever and whininess going on. Soccer got rained out halfway through. There is dog hair everywhere in the world. I'm heading toward my third trimester, which today means I'm wretchedly hormonal AND have half the energy of a narcoleptic three toed sloth.

The Amazing Supermom has reached the end of her rope.

The babies spread the Q-tips all over the bathroom floor. The 4 preschool girls keep getting into the pre-teen girls "Stuff" and causing hormonal eruptions. And we are still beating down the door of trying to get school done before the annual trip to Grandma's house.

If I were not pregnant, liked the taste of alcohol, and didn't morally object to it, I would get good and drunk tonight.

My family is spending the evening doing what they do on Fridays, Popcorn, Candy, Movie night with Dad in the attic. I'm spending the evening trying to find the bottom of the sink, the kitchen counter, and washing out my procrastinator's pile of poop filled diapers.

Today I made myself a horrible attempt at sugar free brownies. I used a banana and part of an apple and whole wheat flour and oatmeal and frankly, it tasted horrible. I had to put honey on it to eat it. But I did. I ate the whole dang thing. I don't feel too bad, there really wasn't anything in it to feel bad about, except the calories, of course.

So I need to somehow regain my superpowers. Where in heaven's name is the bright side?

Well, one bright side is the snuggles that come with sick babies. And that goes along with my lethargy pretty well. I don't feel like doing anything, and my babies just want to be held. Lucky me. Sitting on the couch with one feverish kid and one spotted feverish kid works pretty well (never you mind what havoc is being wreeked elsewhere in the house).

Did I mention that the garbage disposal exploded in the mouse poop filled cabinet last night? I think mouse poop is my Kryptonite. Either that or fighting children. Both weaken me. There is mouse poop in the corner of the 1st floor bathroom. I get shorter and more discouraged everytime I go in there. And when my children are hateful - today it was about a drawing contest - it breaks my heart. Instead of doing math or chores or whatever, they were drawing pictures of dinosaurs/dragons/monsters with markers, and one poor child (sucker) was stuck judging the pictures and was therefore the object of the hatred of all the losers. And hearing them use words and tone of voice to cut each other to ribbons How do I convey to them that when they cut each other they cut me? They cut themselves. They cut our family.

Given a choice, I guess I'd rather have mouse poop.

Of course, none of this is anything. My friend's daughter has leukemia. Someone I know about on facebook lost their premature son today. Another dear one found out yesterday that her husband is having an affair. I have nothing to complain about. I'm fat. I'm overwhelmed. So what? My kid has a virus that will be gone soon, she'll have successfully built immunity, and will barely remember.

More importantly, I have easy access to the One Who loves me best, Who leads me, Who is faithful to meet me at my need. I need to take a swim in That Ocean. I need to lean back again into Those Arms. I think I'll have a chat with my Beloved while I clean out the diapers tonight. See if I can shake off the effects of the Kryptonite.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Chicken Pox and The National Holiday

Today is Day 6 of the 2012 season of Chicken Pox, and is also Day 2 of what we call the National Holiday - the glorious time period between Mom's Birthday and Mother's Day.

A little chicken pox history . . . a thousand years ago, when I had only 5 kids, my oldest broke out with chicken pox hours after singing at a nursing home for Christmas with the home school co-op. Talk about guilt - I was pretty sure we were going to give it to some old person and they were going to die on Christmas day because of us. We spent that December being paranoid, staying home, checking for spots, and potty training the 2 and 3 year old, which was good, because we were then 3 lazy months away from having 4 in diapers.

Fast forward 3 years and some months, and child number five has a strange rash around her upper chest, front to back, on one side only. She is kind of an allergic child, eggs, poison ivy, and I don't really think about it, but a week and half later, we happen to be at a checkup for someone, and I happen to ask the doctor to take a look at it. He says, "If I didn't know better, I'd think that was shingles." A few days later, as I'm changing baby number eight's diaper, I see a telling little "dew drop on a rose petal" blister on her 7 week old thigh, and think, 'If I didn't know better, I'd think that was chicken pox.'

Next day, child number 7 absolutely has chicken pox, next day child number 6 also certainly has it. Number 5 did have shingles. The exclusively nursed new baby did have chicken pox (and has the scar to prove it).

Fast forward to about 3 weeks ago. Child number 7 has a strange looking rash around his upper chest, front to back, on the left side. It took me a couple days, but I figure out (as I'm already in the process of inviting over an old friend, whose children have chicken pox, in hopes they will give it to my 4 youngest) he has shingles. The friends come over anyway, and we have a sucker sharing pox party. Child number 9 wants nothing to do with it. He doesn't want what Seven has (doesn't understand he won't get shingles, just chicken pox) and won't come near the visitors. Oh well, we think, he'll get it eventually from the other three.

He was the first to pop out, no doubt from wrestling with Seven (shingles is contagious by contact, not airborne, like chicken pox - and you don't get shingles from shingles, you get chicken pox from shingles), not from the pox party. Okay, we think, if the pox party doesn't work, in 2 weeks the other three will have it from him.

Then on his 4th day, child number 10 gets one spot. Next day, she still has one, lonely, very classic looking spot. Next day, maybe 4 more small questionable spots. Today, on what should be Nine's last day (but not far enough into his case for her to have gotten it from him) Ten finally has a large number of spots, several with blisters, a convincing case of chicken pox.

The 1 year olds, meanwhile, have nary a spot or blister. Nothing. This is going to be the longest month since that December so many years ago.

The oldest 8 or 9 have activities to go to. I can't take contagious kids to those things. Dad can only take so many half days. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed.

Insert The National Holiday. Truth be told, I invented The National Holiday in hopes of getting at least one of my special days properly recognized, and an excuse to eat good food several days in a row. Having them close together means one of them is bound to be a dud. Either they'll do a great job with the birthday and forget Mother's Day, or they totally blow the birthday and feel guilty enough to acknowledge Mother's Day. But hypothetically at least something good will go down somewhere during that week or so.

It could be my expectations are just a tad high. I want sugar free Trader Joe's chocolate, flowers (good quality but cheap, a week prior to Mother's Day, yeah right), a cake, dinner with my girl friends one day, double date with close friends another, date with husband on a third, cards or notes or letters from at least a couple people who live in my house - that's all for the birthday. Then, for Mother's Day, I want an entire day off. I want to leave the house and not return until I have done absolutely everything I can think of to do (it won't take a whole day, believe me). I also want to have no responsibilities for the entire Mother's day, make no food, change no diapers, take a hot bath, and No Guilt. I want gratitude dripping off the walls. A thousand thank yous. And a parade.

At any rate, some kind of something that says, thanks, Mom, for cleaning up vomit, for cooking food, for grocery shopping, for home schooling till your voice is shot, for giving birth to and nursing lots of babies, for matching socks and stuffing and changing and rinsing out diapers, for not killing anyone or leaving anyone to be raised by wolves on the side of the mountain, for thinking your children are beautiful even when covered by chicken pox blisters and scabs. (I know it's weird, but I do.)

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Skirt people (counter cultural pt 3)

So here is one conviction I have that I don't walk out. I think the skirt people are right. The Duggars and others like them that have girls wear skirts and boys wear pants, I think they are on to something.

Think about it. When a woman has on a skirt, you can easily tell she is a woman. You don't have to glance at the anatomical differences to make that assessment. But when we women have on jeans, t-shirts and especially when we have short hair, we sort of give permission to people to look further at our backsides or fronts to decide what equipment we have. Certainly hairstyle and the presence of makeup are also clues, but you see what I'm saying.

I, however, mostly wear jeans and t-shirts, and have been known to have boy-short hair. I do not require skirts of my girls. I let them wear them (and if they're too little to keep their legs together consistantly, I usually have them wear shorts under) but I don't really push either way.

What I do insist on with clothing (or try to) is that what we wear doesn't draw attention away from our faces and toward our bosoms. Things that have a stripe or words or sequins strategically placed with the goal of drawing the eyes to that zone don't make the cut here.

And yes, it is a goal. The people who design clothing, for the most part, are not concerned with modesty. In fact, they know, and make a living off of it, that sex sells. Their goal is to draw attention to the very parts I want clothing to protect and cover up. It is deliberate. Don't believe for a minute it isn't.

And don't believe for a minute that their efforts are in vain. I heard a small group of late teen/twenties guys talking in a hair salon one day. I was, apparently, invisible, either because of the large baby bump I was sporting, or my less than sexy persona, gray hair, no makeup. Or maybe they didn't even care. But they were talking about how happy they were that it was summer and that girls were wearing less, and how glad they were that the pants were being worn with low waists these days. Lust run amuck. They do notice.

And not just creepy guys. Godly men. Fathers and brothers and friends husbands have eyes and hormones. God made them to be attracted to their spouse, at the right time. God did not make them to withstand constant visual temptation, a cultural bombardment against a pure heart.

So we don't keep pants with words or other stuff on the butts. We don't keep things that look like you have underwear showing (lacy camisoles that do cover cleavage but also draw the eye to the lacy neckline), or garments causing you to have underwear actually showing (tank tops). We don't keep low necklines on hand. Anything we have to fight with to keep straps or unders covered up finds it's way to goodwill.

No short shorts, no short skirts, no skorts (which often make it look like a girl has on a much shorter skirt than she would normally wear; yes, there are shorts built in, but do you really want anyone close enough to figure that out? the fact that the shorts are there only really makes her seem less modest because she will act like she has shorts on but looks like she is wearing a skirt), no low rise pants that let people figure out where your butt dimples are if they are sitting behind you in church, God forbid.

All of this makes us, well, unfashionable. That and the fact that most of our clothing comes in big black trash bags. We are hand-me-down central. I have people giving me clothes that don't even know me. Friends of friends. And we go through, throw out the leopard skin and the figure enhancing clothing, and hang on to the plain clothes that cover our bodies and don't draw attention away from our faces.

It is an on-going process. We weed things out constantly. And not just the kids stuff. I regularly have to pitch a favorite shirt because I realize I'm losing an argument with my bra strap every time I wear it or because it is the kind of shirt a small child is going to cause to migrate every time I hold a small human.

So, we're not skirt people, but we're trying to be weird like them without actually wearing the skirts.